Many mental and physical health issues may result from sleep deprivation. One of the most important pillars of good health is sleep and it is equally as important as healthy foods, pure water and exercise. Studies demonstrate how sleep relates to your sleep-wake cycles and plays a central role in multiple processes that are key to your health. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to depression, weight gain, increased risk of diabetes, cancer and increased risk of accidents. You must have sleep to feel alert, be productive, creative and for optimal body functioning.
The University Medical Center in Freiburg in Germany performed a recent study that set out to understand more about the function of sleep and the interrelationship with health disorders and treatments. Your brain and body are actually quite busy while you are sleeping, and not inactive as it may appear.
Synaptic plasticity may be one answer to the importance of sleep. This is how the connectivity between neurons in your brain changes. Research has demonstrated sleep has an influence on the strength of those neuronal connections. The associate plasticity, or the overall strength of the connections between neurons and the selective strengthening that occurs as your brain learns and encodes new information, was looked at through a study.
Regions of your brain act differently after sleep deprivation, but not all areas of the brain react in the same way. Brain scans studied participants after consecutive nights of no sleep, and found areas of the brain involved with concentration and problem solving sluggish. They were focused on better understanding how sleep impacts the rhythmic nature of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, according to co-author Derk-Jan Dijk, Ph.D., of the University of Surrey, England and quoted in Science News.
The study also showed there were other areas of the brain that continued a downward spiral of activity and ability to perform, not in harmony with the circadian rhythm, but rather driven by growing sleep debt, shown in young adults who went without sleep for 42 hours.
When you are forced to sleep without electricity or power, you tend to sleep deeper and arise more rested. These light sources at night interrupt your circadian clock and melatonin levels that are responsible for how deeply you sleep and how well rested you feel the next day.
The cost of sleep deprivation is high. Chris Colwell, Ph.D., neuroscientist psychiatry professor and sleep specialist at the University of California, said the study is the first of its kind to show markers of negatively-affected muscle fibers, skeletal systems and motor performances due to the disruption of circadian clocks, remarkably in only a few months. OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) is a sleep-related breathing disorder during which your air exchange may stop momentarily or decrease, despite your ongoing effort to breathe. You may not recognize the symptoms of OSA as they include changes to your breathing patterns while you’re sleeping. You might have chronic drowsiness and fatigue when you awaken. It is estimated 12% of the US adult population suffers from OSA. Sleep deprivations is also linked to dementia.
There are risks associated with sleep deprivations as increased risk of car accidents, risk of accidents at work, reduced ability to perform tasks, reduced ability to learn or remember, less productivity at work, less creativity at work, reduced athletic performance, risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, risk of depression, dementia, immune function, slow reaction times and many, many more risks.
It is important to improve your sleep quality. Take action if you are feeling that sluggishness every morning when you wake up. If you’ve had a late night out, it’s understandable, but if it persists every morning without a cause, you may have a chronic condition.
-Dr Fredda Branyon